I spoke on a panel for Glassdoor this week alongside Katie Burke, vice president of culture and experience at HubSpot, Andrew Levy, global careers brand lead at Uber, Macy Andrews, global director of people, culture and talent brand at Cisco, Nate McMahon, senior vice president of people and technology at The Motley Fool and Kirsten Davidson, senior director of employer brand at Glassdoor.

We spent the hour talking about best practices for using talent analytics to overcome the challenges of recruiting and retaining top talent, and a few themes emerged.

Employee engagement lives with managers.

You can feel a good culture when you walk into the room. Same goes for when there's a culture problem. Managers should be able to feel it, and leaders need to hold managers accountable to addressing the problems.

The C-suite can create all the culture initiatives in the world, but when there is a layer of middle managers who aren't owning it and living it every day, it won't succeed.

Managers need to teach and communicate. They need to take ownership of how their people feel. They need to build relationships with staff and talk to them enough to listen. They need to push in a healthy way.

Managers need to create fun. They need to make sure people who are doing great work get more public acknowledgment. They should whole heartedly believe that they never want someone to leave without knowing how they feel.

Employee engagement is a real-time metric.

If you wait for survey results to gauge employee engagement, you're missing the boat because getting those results can take months.

Great companies have managers who look at engagement as a real-time metric. They pay attention to their direct reports' behaviors, reactions and interactions. They have a pulse on their teams and are hyper aware of engagement day-to-day. 

Employees are responsible for the brand.

We talked about a company's employment brand, and whether ownership lies with marketing or HR. I believe (as did many of the other panelists) that employees are responsible for the brand. Their passion (or lack thereof), their attitude, work ethic and engagement can make or break a brand.

We need to treat employees like clients because someday they could be. People aren't staying at companies as long anymore. They're not in it for the gold watch to commemorate 25 years.

Employees leave companies, and some come back. What we have to remember is that employees, past and present, represent the brand. We need to treat them as well on their last day as we did on their first.

Macy Andrews of Cisco said, "We need to activate our employees and let them tell their stories and the company's story."

She's exactly right. Transparency and authenticity are what people crave.